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  1 The Person of the Theotokos in Protestant Theology 1 Presbyter Basileios A. Georgopoulos, Th.D.     to set forth the way in which Protestant theolo-gy—at each stage in the evolution of Protestantism— approaches the The-otokos , this would undoubtedly exceed the scope of an article and would necessitate the writing of a voluminous work.However, the goal of our brief historical and dogmatic consideration is simply to de-tail the deviation of Protestant theology from the confession of the Church on this subject, as the bearers of Divine Revelation witness to it, and at the same time to note the incredible erosion of Protestantism by way of rational-ism and intellectual arrogance.Starting with the leaders of the Reforma-tion, we might remark that Luther held a pi-ous position before the mind of the Church, with regard to the attributes of Mary, calling her the Birthgiver [Mother] of God and Ev-er-Virgin.Never did he question these two attributes, 2  and he similarly presented her as the proto-type of humility and faith.Fearing to minimize, nonetheless, the uniqueness of the mediation and work of Christ, he submitted to criticism, in various  This article appeared in the periodical Kοινωνία  ( Koinonia ), April-August, , pp. -. The author is a consultant to the Commission on Heresies of the Holy Synod of the State (New Calendar) Orthodox Church of Greece, which jurisdiction he serves as a clergyman. Translated from the Greek srcinal by Archbishop Chrysostomos of Etna. Weimarer Ausgabe  , II, pp. - [A -volume collection of Luther’s works, in German, entitled  D. Martin Luthers Werke — Trans ].  2 ways, statements of honor to the Theotokos , just as he also rejected the supplication of her intercessions. 3  Operating within these same boundaries were Zwingli and Calvin, who confessed the attributes of the Mother of God as Theotokos  and Ev-er-Virgin, while rejecting the supplication of the intercessions of the The-otokos. Calvin was, indeed, the most combative and obdurate of polemicists in resisting any form of honor to Her. Any sort of honor towards the The-otokos  he reckoned idolatry. 4 We should underscore that, concerning the negative position of the Protestant leaders with respect to honoring and the supplicating the in-tercessions of the Theotokos, the errors and hyperbole of medieval Papist Mariology, a mong other things, definitely played a rôle in this issue.A typical example of this is the case of Frederick the Wise, the Elector of Saxony, who, in a list he made in  of some , “sacred” objects, included four strands of hair from the Theotokos , as well as a whisp of hay from the Cave of the Nativity in Bethlehem. 5 In the Confessional Statements of Protestantism, both of the Lu theran stripe (e.g., the  Augsburg Confession, article , and the Schmalkald Arti-cles , articles  and ) and that of Calvin (e.g., the  Heidelberg Catechism, article  [to be precise, this article refers to Christ as having taken upon Himself the “very nature of man” from the “flesh and blood” of the Virgin Mary]),   as well as the  Formula Concordiae  of  [ sic;  — Trans. ] (summary articles  [ sic;  article — Trans. ] and ), upheld the belief [ei-ther— Trans. ] that the Mother of God was truly the Birthgiver of God...[or— Trans. ]...Ever-Virgin. 6   At the same time, they rejected any form of honor for, supplication to, or intercession by Her. 7 Socinus, the anti-Trinitarian heretic, constitutes an exception in this epoch, as he denied Her attributes as Theotokos  and Ever-Virgin. 8     Ibid., II, pp. , . Stimm, M.L. (), p.  [in German]. See Presbyter B. Georgopoulos, “A Critique of J. Calvin on the Holy Icons,” Athens, , pp. - [in Greek]. Bainton, Poland [ sic;  Roland],  Here I Stand: [A life of—  Trans. ] Martin Luther, trans. G. Zerbopoulos (Piraeus: ), p.  [in Greek]. Müller, G.L., “Principles of Catholic Mariology in the Light of Evangelical Ques-tions.” Catholica,  (), pp. - [in German]. Grane, L., The Confessio Augustana (Göttingen, ), pp. -. See J. Röhls, The Theology of Reformed Confessional Writings (Göttingen, ), p.  [in German]. von Harnack, A., The History of Dogma (Tübingen, ), th ed., p.  [in Ger-man].  3 This kind of confession in Protestantism concerning the The o to kos , as it was expressed in Reformation confessional documents, was to endure until the end of the seventeenth century, representing—from the stand-point of the development of Protestant thought—the so-called classical Protestant Orthodox position on the matter. The reason that there was no doubt, during this period, about Mary as the Ever-Virgin Mother of God is that the Christology of classical Protes-tant Orthodoxy followed to a great degree the Christology of the Undivid-ed Church. 9 Contrarily, however, from the eighteenth century on, in the age of Neo-Protestantism and the dominant currents of the Enlightenment, Pi etism, and Subjectivism, classical Protestant Christology came into doubt and the person of the Theotokos was diminished in honor.For Schleiermacher (†), because of his Neo-Sabellian Triadology and his heretical Christology, these two attributes of the Theotokos  had no place whatever in his theology. 10 This impugnment of the Mother of God underwent further develop-ment in the so-called Protestant Culture movement of the nineteenth cen-tury, right up to the beginning of the twentieth century.Rationalist criticism and the liberal Protestant theologians (D. Strauss, Chr. Bauer [ sic ; i.e., F.C. Baur— Trans. ], A. von Harnack, and others) called into question every element of the miraculous, ignored ancient ec-clesiastical tradition, and, showing contempt for older Protestant teaching, came to speak of “myths” with respect to the person and attributes of the Theotokos. Already in , D. Strauss, in his celebrated work The Life of Christ,  had characterized the supernatural conception of the God-Man as a myth which crept into the Biblical narrative from Greek mythology.This already contemptuous and demeaning approach to the person of the Theotokos was sustained by twentieth-century Protestantism in the school of religious history ( religionsgeschichtliche Schule ).Representatives of the religious history school (M. Dibelius, W. Bous-set, E. Norden, et al. ) came to equate the Theotokos  with the goddesses of other religions. 11  Matsoukas, N., Protestantism (Thessaloniki: Ekd. P. Pournara, ), pp. - [in Greek]. See I. Karmires, Orthodoxy and Protestantism (Athens, ), Vol. I , pp. - [in Greek]. The Christian Faith (Berlin: -), nd ed., Vol. I, .:; Vol. II, : [in German]. Prümm, K., The Christian Faith and the Ancient Pagan World   (Leip zig: ), Vol. I,  4 Similarly, they attempted to prove that the relevant Biblical narra-tives of Matthew and Luke, in reference to the Theotokos  and the birth of the God-Man, were derived from the mythologies of Egypt and the Near East. 12 By contrast, the principal expositor of Dialectical Theology, K. Barth, 13  maintained respect for the attributes of the Ever-Virgin Theotokos, while E. Brunner 14  denied that the Theotokos  was Ever-Virgin.Nowhere did the person of the Theotokos  suffer worse treatment than in the attempt to “demythologize” Holy Scripture by R. Bultmann and his associates.For another famous Protestant theologian, W. Pannenberg, 15  the Eter-nal Virginity of the Theotokos  was also a myth.In the twentieth century, Protestant theology has likewise revived the arguments of ancient Jewish anti-Christian polemics against the Eternal Virginity of the Theotokos. 16 Among such arguments, for example, is the claim that the passage from Isaiah : [affirming the conception of Emmanuel by a Virgin— Trans. ] employs in Hebrew the word “  Almah ” (a young woman or maid-en) and not “  Bethula ” (virgin), which was supposedly translated incorrect-ly by the Seventy [i.e., in the Septuaginta — Trans. ]. Also, there will always remain the classical Protestant support for that monument of rationalism, the claim that the confession of the Church re-garding the Theotokos  as the Birthgiver of God and Ever-Virgin is a rem-nant of a pre-scientific understanding of the world and of events. 17 The views of [most of— Trans. ] contemporary Protestantism regard-ing the Theotokos  are sadly disdainful and scornful. This is reinforced by the evolution of Protestant Christology, which, except in very few instanc-es—both over time and in our day—has taken on, in some cases, a Neo-Arian character and, in other instances, a Neo-Nestorian quality. pp. - [in German]. Merkelbach, B.H.,  Mariologia (Paris: ), pp. - [in Latin]. Church Dogmatics  (), I., p. ; I., pp. - [in German]. Brunner, E., The Mediator as a Determinant of Christian Belief (Zürich: ), th ed., pp. - [in German]; idem,    Man in Revolt (Berlin, ), pp. -ff [in German]. Pannenberg, W., The Confession of Faith (Gütersloh: ), pp. - [in German]. Justin Martyr, St., “Dialogue with Trypho,” , ., ., , in  Library of Greek Fa-thers and Ecclesiastical Writers, Vol. III, pp. , -. See Eusebius of Caesarea, “Se-lections from the Prophets,” ., Patrologia Graeca  XXII, cols. CD-ABC. Künneth, W., Fundamentals of the Faith  (Wuppertal: ), pp. -.
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